Community learning: how adult education benefits people and places

“Community learning: how adult education benefits people and places”, Let’s Go Further Podcast, Series 3, Ep 3

Episode 3 of the Let’s Go Further podcast is out today!

Joe McLoughlin talks to Dr Sue Pember CBE, Policy Director for HOLEX, and Simon Parkinson, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Workers Educational Association about the importance of adult education and community learning. 

The three begin by discussing the need for adult education for individuals and society. Simon highlighted that since 90% of the UK workforce will need to reskill by 2030, adult education is the key to solving the “crisis of economic inactivity”. Sue followed this by discussing that for individuals adult education is crucial to breaking the cycle of low skilled, low paid work. She argued that:

“If we want to be pulling our weight in the world and increasing productivity, and increasing people’s wellbeing we have to do something about the skills of the nation”

Dr Sue Pember, Let’s Go Further (Oct 2023)

After setting the scene the 3 turned to the positive impact of adult education. Sue began by praising educators who “as we speak… will be out there in the community, working with people to improve their language skills their literacy and numeracy”, running employability courses and providing mental health support. She added that adult education has received 96% Good or Outstanding making it the best in the education sector.  

Simon then went on to discuss how Covid had challenged the hyperlocal model that adult education had been successful in following for many years. He highlighted the challenges that Covid bought and discussed that the new hybrid set up allowed small groups to thrive and drive their own education journey, which helps build confidence in those that have been out of education for many years. 

Joe then asked the pair about their hopes for the future of adult education, particularly in light of next year’s election. Both Simon and Sue emphasised the need for greater stability and flexibility for the adult education policy. Sue argued that “this country absolutely needs a lifelong learning strategy that is all age, all levels and in all settings”. Simon closed the conversation highlighting the need for a cultural shift in the attitude towards adult education: 

“One magic wish I would build a culture in this country that values lifelong learning as a fundamental human right, and almost a responsibility to ourselves, and to those around us to say, I’m going to carry on learning and I’m going to do something really positive, with that learning for my friends, families and communities.” 

Simon Parkinson, Let’s Go Further (Oct 2023)

Subscribe now to listen to series 3 first and stay up-to-date on latest developments in adult education.   

The Let’s Go Further Podcast is produced by the Skills and Education Group in collaboration with Research Podcasts and is published fortnightly.  

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